Namibia’s aviation sector is shifting gears, as it opens its first aviation forum geared at “Reimagining and determining the direction to be taken by the Namibian aviation industry and its related ecosystem.”
During the first day of the event that took place in Windhoek, Namibia, the proposal of harmonized air travel policies, sustainability, and enhancing aviation’s role as an enabler for tourism were the leading topics at the Namibia Aviation Connectivity Forum.
Opening Namibia to the World
At the opening of the Namibia Aviation Connectivity Forum, Hon. John Mutorwa Namibia’s Minister of Works and transport welcomed the guests and speakers to the event, as he highlighted that the country is at the start of the most significant aviation industry reform.
The works and transport minister also noted that Namibian government intended to stimulate the diversification of its economy and develop key service sectors, including civil aviation.
Mutorwa’s words were echoed by Dr. Leake Hangala, Namibia Airports Company chairperson who said aviation was a key sector that the NAC is focused on as part of its strategy to become an enabler to achieving the country’s economic growth.
While reflecting on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, Hangala described the aviation industry as being at a crossroads, with short-term challenges while insisted that collaboration is key to emerge stronger.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented crisis for the aviation industry coupled with travel restrictions, suspensions of operations – including the loss of Air Namibia and liquidity pressures.
Throughout the forum, speakers tempered their enthusiasm about the increased demand with warnings about the future. However, one worry among the stakeholders was the regulations and company finances alike.
But, for airlines and their stakeholders, the risks are many.
Some like Airlink CEO Rodger Foster spoke of regulation as a main concern, noting that lack of liberalization is inhibiting the development of network systems that have the potential to open up the air transport in the region.
While noting the causes of most airlines failures especially in the continent, Foster sounded a cautionary note by stressing that being realistic about the travel market is key as well as airlines looking after their balance sheet by making sure they have equity are among the reasons for Airlink coming out stronger post-pandemic.